Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wanderlust Uncorked...

Just back from another typical adventure...typical coz of all the bottlenecks along the way. The opportunity to break free arrived sooner than classes...i announced my decision to travel...3 pals joined in...the places shortlisted were Nainital, Badarinath and Yamunotri...we decided on Nainital and Mukteshwar. Huffed and puffed our way to catch the last bus leaving for Nainital that night on crammed backseats that screwed our plans to get a decent nap.

Saturday: The morning brought us 4 tired folks to the main junction by the lakeside in Nainital and welcoming us was a steady shower and over-priced hotel rooms. Despondently we looked at our options aka wallets and left for Bhawali, a village-town 12kms away in the hope of finding accomodation. We wandered abt till lady-luck took us to an Uttaranchal Govt Tourist resthouse where they had a dormitory available. This was the beginning of an odd experience as we found ourselves in a room with no matresses on the bed, a hotel without enuf buckets for their bathrooms, hopelessy incapable staff and to make it worse taps that wud spit out only air and my thoughts went to the cash-laden KTDC. My pals were getting angry by the second and my efforts at cooling them down succeeded but not before they had given an earful to the hapless manager. We decided to give the lake, the waterfall, zoo, suicide point, etc which were tame affairs meant for family folks and had become cliched sights at hill-stations, as we knew the only outing that could satiisfy us was a grinding trek and so we headed to China Peak, 10kms away from Nainital on a taxi followed by a 4km trek up a jungle trail.

100 mts up the hill, the 4 of us, threw ourselves at the forest floor, breathing heavily, listening to our pounding heartbeats, staring at each other as we wondered who would be the first to get a cardiac arrest. We decided to carry on, and fortunately for us, were soon distracted from from the physical exhaustion by amazing views of the Nainital Valley, steep gorges on both our sides and the flush forest cover. At the end of it all China Peak lay conqured, it was a supremely solitary spot, far away from the madding crowd, very few of them would be able to make it up here thankfully, and we sat there like in a trance for almost 2 hours and to finally top it all a canteen at the peak, provided us with a much-needed refreshing tea and cream-biscuits. The 4 km trek up had taken us almost 1.5-2 hours but with dusk approaching we virtually jogged our way down unmindful of the slippery rocks or the steep fall on either side. At base-camp, we found to our disgust the last taxi had left and we began a tired walk to the nearest point in civilization...5kms away, the High Court where to our disappintment we learnt that the Mall Road was closed for pedestrian traffic and after another 2kms and our whole body crying out for a much-deserved repreive after a 15km exercise i slept like i had been knockedout!!!

Sunday: The next morning brought abt a dilemma of another kind. One of us wanted to head back to Delhi while I was intent on staying another day. The 2 fence-sitters decided to stay on and coz of our bone-crunching adenture yesterday we rented a cab and visited the same "tame" places we had derided yesterday like the waterfall, suicide point, etc and what a sham all these places turned out to be and what a miss for the 98% tourist crowd here who would never be able to trek their way up China Peak

Monday: By afternoon we left for Mukteshwar which we found to our surprise to be just a sleepy village with a few expensive resorts and a Shiva Temple with an enchanting suicide point with rocks jutting out into mid-air being the only sights here much to our disappointment. By 3 we came down, waited for a jeep until we finally got one at 4:30 to anther junction Bhattalia, 7 kms away where we were alarmed to find no jeep/bus going to Bhawali until next morning and we had a bus to catch at 7:00pm. We decided to bail out of this gudham and took a jeep to Dhanachuly, an even more remote village tucked away in the hills. The people here were real poor and just when we figured our luck had runout and were gettiung desperate a taxi came by at 6pm willing to take us to Nainital. He raced thru the hills like a madman almost going over a few gorges until a road-tarring derailed the cliffhanger ride and our effort to catch the bus.

At Nainital we heard of a bus leaving for Delhi from Ramwani, a town 35kms downhill at 10:30pm and a Tata Sumo was willing to take us and 3 other families there and so we all crowded inside and I found a little girl too on my lap. I was cold to her and treated her like a nuisance and she responded by a vomiting spree when the hairpins started but luckily she was a smart cookie and thrust her head outside and saved me a lot of trouble!!! Soon she fell asleep on my lap with her head resting on my arm and it felt real beautiful. The silly anger I felt earlier had dissolved...until then we were cracking wry jokes abt our misfortunes, money wasted in unneccessary taxi rides, our ill-planning, the difference between optimism and our idiotic optimism and that even if "aakasham idinje thalayil veenaalum we wud find a way to shake it off and keep living", etc, etc but this child bought such a peaceful change to my heart and spirits, i felt a magic i had never experienced earlier, in this stranger feeling so secure and cosy next to me. At Ramwani we parted from the child and her jovial family, and raced to the bus-stand were the bus was revving to leave.

Tuesday: Another difficult trip was over, many factors were beyond our control, it was impossible to plan considering our ignorance abt the scarcity of transport and like, but in the end we made a good trip out of it, by our cool and steady heads, good-natured acceptance of every adverse situation, the trademark indefatigable mallu sense of humour and an unanimous agreement that we had learnt more about our country, our people and their struggles to survive even at the expense of others and how to deal with that. It was saddening to see how places like Nainital were the last-surviving relics of natural beauty in an earth we ravish incessantly. The souring moment of the trip was at Delhi near Kashmiri Gate ...3 ragpicker girls running away without paying money for tea to a helplessly cursing poor tea-stall owner. There is no escaping the realities of India - whether at a hill-station or a metro-station!

**fotos on the way**


Sarah said...

There is no escaping the realities of India - whether at a hill-station or a metro-station!

that is so true.. a part of me want to go back to Kerala.. and the other sensible part would always ask.. are you crazy..I am lost

Thanu said...

Sounds like u had loads of fun.

Kids do that to you, they make you feel that life is so peaceful.

I remember throwing up during every hair pin curves... uggh..

silverine said...

Wow!!! This was beautiful..I mean the rawness of the whole experience... so unlike tame sightseeing holidays.

thoughtrains said...

**fotos on the way** waiting.

b v n said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
b v n said...

Jiby...another good one...planning to do such a trip once i'm back in india...and high point of it all roomie and friend hails from this same bhawali you've refferred to...he's quite impressed but requests you to correct the name to its actual Bhowali :-)...nice post again

b v n said...

one more if you dont mind...friend says...delhi bus leaves from Haldwani(ramwani in the blog)....i dont know :-)

Jiby said...

sarah, i dont think the kerala in ur posts exists anymore...chengannur has changed so much.

thanu, i am not too far behind...i was feeling nauseous the entire trip!!!

silverine, yeah i wud be saying all along the trip i am having so much pals wud look at me like i wuz a madman.

reji, am having trouble with the snaps...the idiots who run this cafe wont let me use their rotting usb ports!!!

bvn, u shud make a trip like this. yeah its bhawoli and dang...i had a friend named ramwani in univ...thats how i messed up haldwani!!!

Anonymous said...

dey adipoli.... nee nammale tripinu mumbu setup ellam padichu vey ketto!..I will be reaching there with a bang!


Anonymous said...

hi there ..u really make me feel that going to uttaranchal was quite hellish xperience 4 u..but sadly dear u visited all the places crowded by usual 2 penny visitors vid no interest in njoying the real beauty of time u better go tointerors of nainital n almora(chittai temple) is simply breath taking..hope ur next visit n adventure is better,